Restaurant Le Terroir
Praha 1 11000, Czech Republic
Tel. +420 602 889 118
Food type: Modern French
Website: Le Terroir
I have an admission – Le Terroir was never on my list of restaurants to visit when I was in Prague. In fact I have not even heard about this place until it was suggested to me by Bastien Ferreri, the head sommelier at Hibiscus. He had been here 4 years ago when he last visited Prague and mentioned that this place had an unbelievable wine list. He didn’t mention much about the food though but I was already sold by the wine list.
Le Terroir is located in Old Town Prague, but it is slightly off the beaten track down some little alley. Unless you know about this place, you are very unlikely to walk in there by chance as a tourist as the entrance is not very prominent. You walk past a summer terrace into the restaurant where you will be led down a flight of stairs, past the kitchen into an old wine cave where the dining room is located. Given that this is an old wine cave which has been converted into a dining room, it has a lot of character and fits in with what the restaurant is trying to achieve.
The menu here is straight forward – there is just one menu for dinner where you can opt for either 4 or 6 courses priced at CZK 1650 and CZK 1890 respectively. During lunch, the same dishes are on offer but shortened to a 3 course menu priced at CZK 1190 (£30).
Now before I go on, I would like to take some time to talk about the wine list which was the main reason why we even came here in the first place. I hardly talk about wine lists when dining out in England because even though many restaurants have a very good selection of wines, the markups are generally extortionate. It is sad when we deem 3 to 3.5x markup on the retail price reasonable. However, at Le Terroir, they not only have an impressive wine list with all the big names you can think of in various vintages, the markups here are relatively fair. More importantly, they have an “Open cellar” section on their wine list where they try to promote wines of a certain region at a special price. To be honest, I look at these promotional prices with a lot of scepticism as restaurants often use this an opportunity to dump bin end wines they cannot move. However, the discounted wines here focused on Bordeaux with gems such as 1997 Latour and 2003 Montrose (an epic wine which is only starting to come into its own right now) at cost price. In fact, the ’97 Latour was priced at £255 (including tax) which is actually below cost price. Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, this was what we ordered (amongst a few other bottles).
What about the food? To be honest, I was pleasantly surprised by the level of cooking delivered here. I was not expecting much given what Bastien had told me about the food but you could see a lot of work had been put into all the dishes here. Take for example a starter of pigs cheek & belly – this was an absolutely delicious dish with soft and tender pigs cheeks alongside crispy pork belly accompanied by a comforting lentil stew. This was perfect on a cold rainy day in Prague.
Another truly outstanding dish was guinea fowl with pomme puree – the breast was juicy and tender, served with some sautéed girolle mushrooms and a creamy sauced made from the guinea fowl stock and wholegrain mustard. I am not a big fan of guinea fowl as it is often dry and stringy but the cooking of the bird here could have come from any top Parisian Michelin starred kitchen.
A lot of care is taken with the sourcing of their cheese with an impressive cheeseboard supplied by affineur Volker Waltmann from Erlangen, Germany, who supplies some of the big restaurants in Germany. Each piece of cheese we tried from the board was in immaculate condition. It was also nice to see that they had a dedicated cheese waiter who was able to explain all the cheeses on offer.
Only one dessert was on offer – a very good deconstructed rhubarb cheesecake with strawberries and strawberry sorbet. My only regret was there wasn’t more of it!
We thoroughly enjoyed our meal at Le Terroir, so much so we decided to return the following day. The cooking here did not try to be overambitious but instead focused on delivering simple enjoyable food to be enjoyed with some excellent wine. Unfortunately, we were the only table on both days for lunch. Their sommelier told me that this is a normal occurrence for lunch but they are often packed by locals for dinner. This is such a shame because the restaurant serves excellent food and could do a lot more to entice tourists visiting Old Town Prague to dine here instead of visiting one of the many tourist traps around the area. This was our favourite meal in Prague, even more so than the other Michelin starred establishments. If you love wine and are in Prague, you’d be silly not to come here.